This report filed September 25, 2004
SMITHVILLE, Missouri — When all the competitive wars were fought and penalties were assessed September 25 at the U.S. half triathlon championship in a little Missouri town called Smithville, the men’s and women’s overall winners were both named Smith.
Stephen Smith, a 34-year-old computer programmer from Reston, Virginia who says the only sports he did back in college at Virginia Tech were “smoking and drinking,” revved up his legs to catch swim-bike leader Brad Gale at the 11-mile mark to win the overall men’s title by 1:19 in a total time of 4:19:57. Smith’s 1:28:50 run was only eighth-best of the day, but he put 6:10 on South Africa native Gale during the run to erase Gale’s four-minute lead off the bike.
Smith came into this race after a mildly disappointing sixth place at the USAT nationals last week in Shreveport. “I crossed he line one minute out of sixth place in my age group, but a deserved penalty — my bike fell off the rack at T2 — put me out of the medals. I felt like I had a lot of energy left over, so I decided to use it all up here.”
While 23-year-old Mariel Ettinger of Eugene, Oregon showed flashes of her Stanford University NCAA track-and-field-bred 16:20 5K speed to come from six minutes back after the bike and was the first woman to cross the line, two drafting calls left her a heartbroken fourth overall. While Ettinger, a former Footlocker high-school All-American runner, was assessed four minutes for her first drafting call and eight minutes for her second, that left a surprised 26-year-old education grad student from Zanesville Ohio as the overall women’s winner in 4:46:42.
Her name: Carrie Smith.
“The 47-year-old just killed the bike and that girl in the yellow and black [Ettinger] really blew my doors off on the run,” said Smith afterward before she knew she had won. “But second place here in only my third half-Ironman makes me really really happy.”
When the penalties were assessed against a visibly upset Ettinger, Smith’s margin of victory turned out to be 2:05 over runner-up Leslie Curley, 35, of Topeka, Kansas, the overall age-group winner of the 2003 USA Triathlon long-course duathlon nationals at Powerman Tennessee.
Perhaps the most impressive race of the day was put in by women’s 45-49 winner Lydia Delis-Schlosser of Davis, California, who took the lead quickly into a race-best 2:31:53 bike and held it until younger legs swept past her four miles into the run. Delis-Schlosser, who posted an awesome 5:17 bike split in 2003 at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii, held tough with a 1:46:05 run to finish third overall woman.
In the Ironman-distance UltraMax event run concurrently on the Smithville course, Michael Larsen of Longmont, Colorado, brother of mountain bike and Ironman champion Steve Larsen, won the overall title in 10:06:26. Larsen, 37, ran his race much in his brother’s style, riding to a big lead with a 4:46 bike split — 28 minutes faster than the next-best competitor. Then he hung on for dear life with a 4:07 marathon, ultimately crossing the line three minutes to the good over runner-up Dwayne Miller, 43, of Columbia Missouri.
A total of approximately 550 triathletes competed in the twin events, which benefited the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. Roughly 200 raced in the UltraMax, and 350 in the U.S. Half Iron Championship.